Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? (Genesis 49:9)
Jacob compared the future victory and ascension of Judah to a lion resting after a kill. He compared Judah’s enemies to the lion’s slain prey. A parallel prophecy in the Torah says the lion “will not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain” (Numbers 23:24).
Like a sleeping lion, satiated after the kill, Judah will be at peace. Just as the surviving animals would never dare to rouse the slumbering lion, neither will any of the surviving nations dare to challenge Judah again. Rashi explains the prophecies of the lion as referring to the era of King David and King Solomon. The lion tearing the prey symbolizes King David, who made war on Israel’s enemies and subdued them. The lion lying down to rest refers to David’s son King Solomon, who enjoyed an era of peace and prosperity, as Scripture says, “So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:25).
King David and his son Solomon prefigure the wars of Messiah followed by the peace of the Messianic Era. The lion-prophecies also speak of the time of peace that will come after the wars of Messiah. The Messiah son of David will defeat the enemies of Israel and usher in an era of peace during which no nation will dare rise up against Israel. The people of Israel will enjoy a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity—the Messianic Kingdom.
As the conquering hero who will defeat Judah’s enemies, Yeshua receives the title Lion of the Tribe of Judah:
Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome. (Revelation 5:5)
A lion fears nothing, but everything fears the lion: “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8). This is King Messiah. (Lekach Tov)